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Limited Authority

Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution knowing that rulers are ministers (table-servers!). They believed that they should not only serve those over whom they were to exercise authority, but that the ruler is a servant of God! They wrote the Constitution knowing that rulers are God's ministers serving, not only God, but those over whom they were to exercise authority.

For rulers are...ministers of God to thee for good, Romans 13:3-4

They knew that all authority resides in God for Jesus said, "All power/ authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth," (Matt.28:18). No one has any authority unless itís given by God. All authority is delegated to men by the highest authority, God. Rulers have their authority from God.

The centurion in Matthew 8:9 stated, "I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it."

Written into the Constitution is the only delegated authority our civil servants in the federal government have. Our Founders wrote "We the people," in the Preamble to the Constitution and designated the powers they would allow those in the offices we (the rulers!) created. Limited powers were given the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches of our federal government. They are clearly expressed in the Constitution.
This delegated authority may not be re-delegated without the consent, tacit or expressed, of the one who gave it. Our Founders knew the Scriptures well. Thatís where they got their ideas. The example of King Saul in I Samuel 13:8 is a case in point: Samuel had told Saul to wait for him to offer a sacrifice to God. Saul becoming anxious because Samuel "came not at the set time appointed" offered the sacrifice. Samuel had not been given the consent of God to re-delegate his authority; Saul usurped authority not given him, therefore God rejected Saul from being king.

Did our Founding Fathers know the Scriptures? They knew it well. They knew the laws governing the use of authority. There are three:

1. All authority is delegated from the higher to the lower.

2. Delegated authority is always less in the ones to whom it is delegated.

3. Authority cannot be re-delegated to another without the consent, tacit or expressed, of the one who delegated it.

Those who wrote our Constitution knew, as illustrated by the example of Saul and Samuel above, it is sin to usurp (steal) the authority of another. This is one more example of the fact that ours is a Christian form of government and ours is a Christian nation: our Founders found these ideas in the Scriptures and wove them into the Constitution.

A good rule to help understand authority comes from Scripture:

Authority is for the benefit of those over whom it is exercised (Romans 13:4 [So they are called civil servants, Matt. 20:25: minister or servants; not lords I Peter 5:2-4 ); On the other hand, dominion is for the benefit of those who exercise it, (Genesis 1: 29)

U.S. Constitution
The Constitution of the United States has been the supreme law of the nation since 1788. Drafted at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, it calls for a government of limited and delegated powers. George Washington was chosen to serve as president of the convention by the 55 delegates, who represented 12 states. The delegates drafted the document and sent it to Congress for approval. It was then sent to the states for ratification. All 13 states had ratified the Constitution by May 29, 1790. The First U.S. Congress drafted 12 amendments, from which the states ratified 10. Those 10 amendments became known as the Bill of Rights. Source: Encarta

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© Kirk Barnes Updated October 10, 2006